The EU Committee at the British Chamber of Commerce|EU & Belgium welcomes the newly appointed vice-chairs, who will run for a year mandate. They will help the EU Committee team to shape the programme and provide a platform for engagement. “The EU Committee team is now stronger with a very competent team and I am very confident in their contribution to put key EU legislative files on the agenda that will meet our member’s needs” commented Nikolaus Tacke, EU Committee chair.

A survey that we have conducted in July 2017 showed that only 52% of our members feel confident in the future political prospects of the EU. Our mission for 2018 will be to find ways to enhance a stronger relationship between the policy-makers and our members, through a very strong programme and also around discussions about the Future of Europe.

The British Chamber’s EU Committee for the year 2017-2018 is composed of five task forces covering fundamental EU policy issues. Please find below the list of our leadership and task force team for 2018.

EU new team table

18 months before the European Parliament’s election and the nomination of a new commission, we are delighted to be welcoming Mr Katainen, Vice-President for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness at the European Commission; Dominique Ristori, Director-General at DG Energy; Francisco Fonseca Morillo, Deputy Director-General, DG JUST and a few leading MEPs such as Birgit Sippel or Axel Voss. To find out more, please check our programme.

If you would like to know more about our EU Committee activities or be more involved, please email Nikolaus, EU Committee chair at or Charline, EU Events and Policy Executive at


The British Chamber blog is written by guest bloggers and their comments do not reflect the views of the British Chamber

Eradicating all forms of violence against women is a priority of the European Union (EU) and its Member States. The EU recently affirmed this commitment by signing the leading legal instrument on combating gender-based violence: the Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (Istanbul Convention). The ratification of the Istanbul Convention by the EU will improve complementarity between national and EU levels for an integrated approach to combating violence against women.

The European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE) has developed a framework to measure violence against women to support this process. It can be used as a tool to help the EU and its Member States fulfill the monitoring and reporting responsibilities that result from their commitment to the Convention. Bringing data together and measuring the extent of violence is essential for adequate policies to be designed, implemented and monitored.

EIGE’s unique measurement tool – the Gender Equality Index[1] provides scores for every Member State and the EU as a whole to measure their progress in achieving gender equality. The domain of Violence has been a part of the Gender Equality Index since the beginning, as violence is rooted in the unequal status of men and women, however it could not be fully populated due to the lack of data. As the availability of data improved, the third edition of the Index (2017) presents a comprehensive measurement framework to monitor violence in a comparable way. The phenomenon of violence against women is closely interconnected with the other domains of the Index and assessed in the broader context of gender equality.

The measurement framework of the domain of Violence sheds light on the spectrum of violence against women that ranges from harassment to killing (femicide). It also provides a more nuanced depiction of the phenomenon.

EIGE additional indicator illustrationThe structure of this framework has three layers.

The first layer contains data on the forms of violence against women that are the most common and widely criminalised. This data is available in all EU countries, therefore comparable and used in the composite measure. The scores given to the EU and each Member State are based on this data.

The framework also includes additional indicators to give a more nuanced picture of violence against women. It is the second layer that measures forms of violence that are very serious but not yet measured in most countries. Some of them, such as stalking and psychological violence are not yet widely criminalised. They provide an overview of the extent of various forms of violence described in the Istanbul Convention as well as data on trafficking in human beings and femicide[2]. These indicators could be included in the calculation of the single score if more reliable and comparable data become available.

The third layer reflects the obligations set out in the Istanbul Convention as well as information on the root causes of violence against women. It covers six dimensions: policies, prevention, protection and support, legislation, involvement of law enforcement agencies and public attitudes towards violence against women and gender equality. This layer helps us answer important questions, for example, is violence against women more common in countries where public attitudes show a higher tolerance to violence? Are health consequences mitigated where support services are widely available? Once populated with data, this layer will help us understand the trends in combating violence and identify strategies that work.

To reveal the complexity of the violence phenomenon, the composite measure, which is based on the data of the first layer of the framework, includes three aspects: prevalence, severity and disclosure of violence against women. The prevalence sub-domain measures physical and sexual violence against women. Severity measures the impact of violence on women’s lives; and disclosure reveals their readiness to disclose their experience. On a scale of 1 to 100, 1 represents a situation where violence is non-existent and 100 represents a situation where violence against women is extremely common, highly severe and not disclosed.

For the first time we have single comparable scores for each of the countries and for the EU at large. The EU’s score is 27.5 out of 100, showing that the phenomenon is prevalent, severe and underreported. The national scores range from 22.1 in Poland to 44.2 in Bulgaria.

One of the important findings is that almost one in two women (47%) in the European Union who have experienced violence have never told anyone, whether that be the police, health services, a friend, neighbour or colleague[3]. This lack of reporting shows that women are not receiving the support they need nor are protected from further violence.

The recent worldwide social media campaign #MeToo that aims to break the silence on sexual harassment and violence shows that things can change. In light of allegations in the media, the European Parliament has put forward a resolution on combating sexual harassment and abuse in the parliament and the wider EU. It encourages victims to speak out and calls on politicians to act as responsible role models in preventing and combating sexual harassment. Directors of nine EU Justice and Home Affairs  Agencies (JHA) have also signed a joint statement on zero tolerance for sexual harassment and violence against women in the workplace. Men Directors of JHA joined the White Ribbon Campaign, taking a pledge never to tolerate or remain silent about violence against women.

EIGE logo EN


EIGE is committed to providing research and measurement tools for policymakers to help them prepare targeted policies to eradicate violence against women. Find the full report here.


[1] European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE) (2013b), Gender Equality Index — Report, Publications Office of the European Union, Luxembourg, available at:
[2] Femicide has been used to refer to a wide range of violent acts, such as so-called honour killings, female infanticide, pre-adolescent mortality of girls and dowry-related deaths (United Nations, 2012). EIGE defines femicide as ‘the killing of a woman by an intimate partner and death of a woman as a result of a practice that is harmful to women.’
[3] Percentage of women (aged 18-74) in the EU-28 who have not disclosed their experience of sexual and/or physical violence since the age of 15 to anyone. Source: EIGE’s calculation, FRA, Violence against women: an EU-wide survey, 2012

The British Chamber of Commerce | EU & Belgium welcomes the declaration by the European Council that “sufficient progress” has been made in the negotiation of the UK withdrawal from the EU, and its decision to move to phase two. We urge the Commission to proceed swiftly with the negotiations on a withdrawal agreement incorporating the terms of the joint report of 8 December. We also urge the Council to grant the Commission a mandate to open negotiation on a transitional period at the earliest possible occasion. We stress that the withdrawal agreement which includes the transitional arrangements should be adopted well ahead of the 29 March 2019 deadline. We further welcome the Council’s intention to start discussions on a negotiation mandate for the future EU-UK relations early in the new year.

Our member companies have a common interest in the success of Europe as a whole, including both the EU and Britain. We hope that the EU27 and the UK will negotiate a deep and comprehensive agreement that supports the invaluable relations between the two partners.

First and foremost an orderly withdrawal agreement must be reached, which includes a transitional period that allows all economic activity to continue unhindered during and after Britain’s withdrawal from the EU. The transitional arrangements shall ideally maintain the status quo and ensure the application of the acquis communautaire in the UK for the period necessary to grant businesses certainty, until the full implementation of the future relationship.

With little time available for extremely complex negotiations and ambitious objectives, we are calling for profound and constructive progress in the weeks ahead on negotiating the transitional arrangements and a framework for the future. We will continue working with the negotiating authorities and national business representatives across the UK and EU27 to forge common understanding that a strong and close future relationship is in the best interest of everyone.

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Press Contact: Uzma Lodhi – Head of Communications – +32 2613 2855


About the Chamber

The chamber has been serving the international business community here for over 100 years and we are committed to the long term – continuing to be the ultimate Gateway to Europe. Our members are small to large businesses from Britain and across the world – all with a stake in the success of Europe and its economy. They employ 1.2m people in the UK alone, with at least as many again in the rest of Europe.

Tom Parker Monday Mail Quote (BLOG) 4 (final)

An alliance of northern European Coastal Chambers accounting for 70% of EU-UK trade urge British and EU negotiators to create clarity on a future trade friendly relationship as soon as possible now that sufficient progress has been made.

The Federation of Belgian Chambers of Commerce represented by Voka – Flanders Chamber of Commerce and BECI – Brussels Chamber of Commerce, the British Chambers of Commerce, Chambers Ireland, the Danish Chamber of Commerce, the French Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the German Chambers of Commerce and Industry and the Netherlands-British Chamber of Commerce have today handed over a joint statement to the British and EU Brexit negotiators. They urge the British and EU negotiators to strive for a breakthrough in the first phase of the negotiations to ensure talks on transition and the future EU-UK trade relationship can start as soon as possible.

Countries from the northern European coastal area have always maintained exceptionally good trade ties. Trade between the United Kingdom and the other 6 European Union countries in this area amounted to 344bn EUR in 2016, accounting for 70% of the total EU-UK trade. The English Channel, located in the middle of the North Sea area, is for example the world’s busiest shipping lane, with more than 500 vessels passing through the strait on a daily basis, as well as being a key transport link between the EU and Ireland. A sudden and chaotic disruption of trade in this region would have a substantial economic impact that should not be underestimated.

The northern European Coastal Chambers were therefore pleased to learn last Friday that sufficient progress has been made in the first phase of the Brexit negotiations. The Northern European Coastal Chambers now call on the United Kingdom and the European Union to move on to discussing the outlines of a future trade friendly EU-UK relationship that fully respects all aspects of the integrity of the Single Market as soon as possible.

The northern European Coastal Chambers also believe a realistic transition period is needed to provide time for companies to adapt to the new EU-UK trading relationship. A status-quo like transition period – announced with sufficient notice – ensuring the UK remains in the customs union and the Single Market for the duration of the transition period, with all the appropriate rights and obligations, would be best to provide business with the highest possible degree of certainty and predictability.



Press contacts:
Belgian Chambers
– Voka – Flanders Chamber of Commerce and Industry
Mr Tom Demeyer
0032 472 84 15 99
– Beci – Brussels Enterprises, Commerce and Industry
Mr Jan De Brabanter
0032 499 588 845

British Chambers
– British Chambers of Commerce
Mr Allan Williams
0044 (0)7920 583381
– British Chamber of Commerce – EU & Belgium
Ms Uzma Lodhi
0032 (0)499 515553

Chambers Ireland
Mr Ian Talbot
00353 87 234 4829

Danish Chamber of Commerce
Mr Kasper Ernest
0032 491 25 56 11

Deutscher Industrie- und Handelskammertag
Franziska Stavenhagen
0032 2 286 – 1634
French Chambers of Commerce and Industry
Mr Christophe Duday
0033 1 40 69 38 31

Netherlands British Chamber of Commerce
Mrs. Lyne Biewinga
0031 70 205 56 56

Usually, I leave my apartment in Brussels around 7 am. However, “usually” is a difficult word to use since there is hardly any routine that structures a day in the “quartier européen”. Depending on the week, my workplace is either in Brussels, Strasbourg or my home country Germany. This involves a lot of travelling and means that a well-organized calendar is vital.

This particular morning, I got to my office after a few hours of sleep and a cold shower. I had arrived from Hannover by car the night before and had been welcomed home by a broken boiler in my apartment. Nevertheless, I had to shake off any exhaustion and prepare for a busy day at the European Parliament.

There was one major story today: the failure of the exploratory talks to form a new government in Germany. After several weeks of negotiations, the liberal FDP announced that they had ruled out any coalition with the CDU, the CSU and the Greens. National politics deeply affect my work at the European Parliament which is why I keep close track of current events.

After an hour of reading the newspapers, checking the mails and preparing the agenda for the day, I left for the first committee session. I have the honour of being the Chair of the Committee on Foreign Affairs. Here, members from all political groups get together to discuss the EU’s foreign and security policy.

One of the tasks of the committee is to strengthen the EU’s relations with the parliaments of third countries and the parliamentary assemblies of other international organizations. Our committee provides a platform for delegations from all over the world to exchange their views with the MEPs and to discuss common interests. Chairing the committee is exciting and challenging at the same time since the agenda is very diverse.

At today’s session, I was happy to welcome the Indian ambassador Mrs. Gaitri Issar Kumar for the debriefing of the EU-India Summit which took place on 6 October in New Delhi. With India’s growing influence in the world, it is of great importance to hear the Indian voice in the European Parliament. Both the Indian representatives and the MEPs emphasized their ambition to strengthen cooperation regarding trade and civil society.

After several other points in the committee, I rushed to an interview with Radio Free Europe about the upcoming Eastern Partnership Summit in Brussels.

The Eastern Partnership is an initiative of the EU involving the countries Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. By strengthening cooperation with its partner countries, the EU is able to foster democracy, stability and prosperity in its neighbourhood. However, I also try to draw attention to the challenges and shortcomings of the reform process in the region. In my interview, I underlined that the EU should offer more support for those countries that successfully implement reforms while reducing support for countries that fail to meet the requirements.

After a quick lunch-to-go, I was very happy to welcome the former British foreign minister Mr. David Miliband in my office. He now is the CEO of the International Rescue Committee, which provides emergency aid and long-term assistance to refugees. A topic which is more important than ever. Personal exchanges with politicians, representatives of NGOs and ambassadors are vital for gaining a realistic picture of the situation in other countries.


In another three-hour session of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, we discussed the pre-accession assistance for Turkey. The EU offers financial support and expertise to all accession candidates. The goal is to enable these countries to adapt to European democratic and economic standards. In any case, the willingness to reform needs to be the precondition for EU support. The situation in Turkey is worrying!


Due to the news from Germany, I had been invited to join a panel discussion addressing the failure of the exploratory talks and its implications for the European Union. The end of the negotiations is unfortunate. After a complicated start, the parties had come closer and closer to an agreement. I also regret the end of the negotiations because all four parties are pro-European. They know that a strong EU means a strong Germany. During the discussion, I could highlight that Germany will remain a reliable partner with a functioning caretaker government that continues to work towards the successful future of our European Union.


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